Since I am not on the book of faces, a post here in case there is any interest.
Iceland is amazing, beautiful, expensive, spectacular, crowded sometimes, green, full of craggy hills, sheep, and waterfalls.
Link to photos here: https://iceland2018trip.shutterfly.com
A summarized version of photos here: Linkie
A few observations:
Beer? Very good but astronomically expensive. I saw a double IPA listed for 1800 ISK (close to $18) during one of our stops. No, I did not have one, but did pay 1200-1400 several times. Ironically the cheapest beer was at happy hour on our last day at the Hilton in the capital city. Only 750 ISK because it was half price!
Breakfast? Cold cuts and cheese. Plus some other stuff. It was weird having cold cuts for breakfast. One guesthouse made waffles and I gave them 5 stars!
Plans? Angus and I had a lot of ideas but only a general plan. We had first night booked in southern Iceland near a town called Vík, and our last night in the capital city of Reykjavik. We were staying for a total of 6 days/5 nights but were going to wing the other nights. We had talked about driving the whole ring road, rafting up north, and other stuff. We took camping gear in case we ran into a bind finding a guesthouse at the last minute but we always found something. On the 3rd day we decided to stick to southern Iceland, and each night found a place within 10-20km of Vík which was convenient for restaurants and other services. We even found a brewery there with craft beer and burgers and it was fantastic.
We did not really do any running, but hiked about 75k or more. I don't think I ever walked that much. The trails for the most part were difficult for running anyway... steep climbs and descents. Ok, a bit about the trip. Day1
We hit the ground running after a red eye flight and minimal sleep. We decided to hit the touristy spots of the Golden Circle on the first day on our drive toward Vík. Stops included Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir), Geyser, and Gullfoss. Foss means falls obviously. They are everywhere. All these places were packed with tourist buses and people but I am still glad we stopped.Day2
The locals are great. We received 2 awesome tips, the first from the receptionist, waitress, cook at the guest house we stayed at on our first night. She told us to make the drive into the campground at Þakgil (Thakgil) and hike out there and so we did. The hike up the Mælifell trail was amazing and we had a perfect sunny clear day to take in the lush green views of the mountains, canyons, and out to the sea. A tricky hike as the second half of the hike there was no trail, just make your way over the land from post to post, on spongy moss covered hills, up to the top of Mælifell and then down the ridge. It was a very tricky, even scary descent on a scree ridge not much wider than single track with a drop of hundreds of meters on either side. It did scare me quite a bit to be honest but I felt alive after making it and I did not hesitate. Quite a contrast to day 1 as we did not see a single person on the trail, just some sheep, and the few people we did see were down in the valley of the campground.Day3
The night before, while drinking an expensive beer at our guesthouse (a different one) and talking to the local proprietor he told us about a natural pool up in a canyon that we could hike into for a swim in natural hot springs water. So our day started with a drive up to Selfavallalaug, a short hike into the canyon, and a relaxing swim and soak in the hot pool. It was actually a pool filled with hot water from geothermal springs and had been in existence since 1923. Weather was cool, damp, cloudy, and drizzly. Perfect for this type of activity.
Afterwards, we took a long drive east (140km) to the glacier park at Skaftefell. The weather had warmed up and we had some sunshine as we hiked uphill on a nice bit of single track trail with great views of the glacier and "ice beach". Further hiking took us by several waterfalls of course. After the hike, it was late in the afternoon and we sort of nixed any plans to circumvent the island on the ring road. We decided to head back the Vík area as we had one more big hike on our bucket list for this trip.Day4
The plan for the day was to hike the famous Fimmvörðuháls trail starting at Skogafoss. We had tried to work put logistics to hike point to point to Þorsmark but logistics to get returned to our starting point would be very expensive and include a 25km hitchhike as well. So we decided to hike out/back to the hiker's shelter hut at the halfway point. We had more of and Icelandic weather day here with temperatures around 10C with clouds in the early going, and about 5C or less with rain near our turn around 920m above sea level. The hike up was legendary. What seemed like hundreds or waterfalls gushing and roaring through bright moss green canyons. So many we stopped taking pictures unless they rated incredible. About 8k into the hike we entered the volcanic moonscape and the weather turned much colder and rainy. Donned a water proof layer from my pack. On the way down, we had wind too as we were heading back towards the sea. Despite the chill we found it the perfect and appropriate way to finish this epic hike. LOL, even jogged a few sections on the way down as we seemed to be in a race with a pair of jeans cladded European hikers. We beat them of course, but they did take an early lead.Day5
Last full day in Iceland. Our travels had us overnight in a town called Hveragerði. We could not pronounce this so simply called it Herdy Gerdy Town. Quite accidentally, through random last minute booking we ended up here, and it is also known as the hot springs capital of the world. The mountains nearby were literally steaming. We woke up early and were on the trail at Reykjadular by 6am, for a short hike to the hot river where we started our day with a pleasant soak in a river with water temps around 40C. Probably the easiest trail we had been on all week, and if I had not been so bushed from yesterday's 25km hike, something I could have run.
The remainder of the day we drove back towards the capital and then north towards Hvalfjörður, a beautiful large fjord north of Reykjavik. We took the long tunnel underneath the fjord then looped around and made a few stops, most notably at Glymur Falls, where we did a crazy hike up to the top of Iceland's highest waterfall. Then our trip was all but done, other than a fantastic 7 course gourmet meal in the city. It was crazy good food.